Flat tires seem to happen at the worst possible times. They are obnoxious, but with the right tools and method, you can fix a flat tire on your own and be on your way again. Read our how-to guide for changing a flat tire:
1. Be prepared. For on the road emergencies, your car should be supplied with a jack, a lug wrench, a fully inflated spare tire, and your vehicle owner’s manual. These tools, along with other essential car emergency items like a flashlight, gloves, a poncho, and a snow shovel, will be essential and will prevent an emergency situation from ruining the rest of your day. As another preventative measure, ensure that your tires (including the spare) are properly inflated at the right air pressure. Check tire pressure once a month and before you go on long trips with heavy hauls.
2. Secure your working area. Turn your hazard lights on as well as any additional reflective and flashing emergency lights to warn drivers of your presence. Don’t park on any curves or inclines. Don’t park on dirt, sand, or grass as your jack could become unstable in the soft ground. Turn on the parking brake as well as the emergency brake to prevent rolling, and stick a wedge (wood, a brick, or a large stone) beneath your tires to ensure your safety. If desired, you can take out your floor mat and kneel on the clean side as you work.
3. Use the sharp end of the lug wrench to remove the hubcap. Set it upside down on the ground to contain your lug nuts. Consult your owner’s manual throughout for reference.
4. Loosen the lug nuts prior to jacking up your car. This will make it easier to loosen the lug nuts than it would be while the wheels are spinning. Loosen the lug nuts to about ½ a turn without removing them completely.
5. Now is the time to place your jack. Place the jack under a solid piece of the car’s framework, not under the floorboards. It is likely that your car and owner’s manual have reference points for you to use.
6. Lift your vehicle off the ground with the jack. Lift the car so that the tire is only a few inches off the ground. Make sure the car is secure enough so that you can start working.
7. Unscrew the lug nuts and place them in the hubcap so that you won’t lose them. Remove the tire, gripping by the treads, and place it on its side so it doesn’t roll away.
8. Place your spare tire into the wheel well. Take note that many cars come with compact spare tires that are much smaller and need to be replaced shortly. Align it with the wheel bolts and add your lug nuts. Tighten the lug nuts by hand as much as possible.
9. Lower your car. Once on the ground, tighten the lug nuts to fully secure and prevent your tire from slipping off in the road, double checking your work. Replace the hubcaps onto your tire. Return all tools and emergency lights to your car.
Learning to change a flat car tire is an essential skill that is much easier than it looks. Learn other essential car maintenance skills as well as more vehicle information at Kuehn Motors.